TURIN -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. are offering incentives in Italy to encourage owners of Volkswagen Group models that may be affected by the German automaker's diesel emissions scandal to buy new models from their brands -- but some dealers are skeptical about the campaign.
VW Group has said that nearly 650,000 of the diesel cars it sold in Italy were equipped with software that enabled the company to rig diesel emissions checks in the U.S. The models include VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler is seeking to attract disillusioned VW Group customers with trade-in incentives ranging from 500 euros for Fiat minicars to 1,500 euros ($1,700) for a Jeep Grand Cherokee large SUV.
Ford is offering a trade-in bonus of 750 euros across its range.
It was unclear if similar programs are being contemplated for the U.S.
Dealers in Italy are skeptical that the incentives will boost sales.
A Fiat dealer said the incentives have not created yet any additional customer traffic since the campaign started on Oct. 1.
"This is not normal business competition but looting a rival in difficulties," the dealer told Automotive News Europe. The dealer asked not to be named because he was expressing a personal opinion.
The dealer is also reluctant to accept VW Group diesel models as trade-in because the cars could be subject to a recall to eliminate the emissions cheat software.
A Ford dealer said he has not seen yet a customer wishing to trade-in a VW vehicle model for a Ford model despite the trade-in incentive. The dealer said the incentive might encourage Skoda and Seat customers to swap their car for a new Ford but called it a "questionable commercial practice."
Ford of Italy has told dealers that the 750-euro trade-in incentive applies to diesel and gasoline VW Group cars when contracts are signed by Oct. 31 and the cars are registered by Dec. 31.
Fiat Chrysler has told dealers that the trade-in offer applies to VW Group diesel or gasoline models when sales contracts are signed by Oct. 31.
The trade-in bonus is 500 euros for the Fiat Panda, Punto and 500 models, and the same amount for the Lancia Ypsilon and Alfa Romeo MiTo. The incentive grows to 750 euros for the Fiat 500L, 500X and Freemont, the Alfa Giulietta and the Jeep Renegade, Cherokee and Wrangler. The highest incentive is 1,500 euros on the Grand Cherokee.
Both the Fiat Chrysler and Ford incentives are detailed in internal communications to dealers seen by ANE.
Dealers of other automakers contacted by ANE said that they were not aware of specific actions to lure VW Group car owners.